121 Stories - Drawing Close To God After The Death Of A Spouse

Learn How Leaning On God Can Help Us Overcome Grief

Nikki Maucere Jackson
Nov 27, 2022    14m
Listen as one woman shares how leaning on God and her church community helped her overcome grief after she lost her husband. She teaches us that God is good and He is always with us, even in the darkest times we face. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Nikki Maucere Jackson: [00:00:01] One of the things that Craig and I liked to say was that we could always make more money, but we couldn't always get these memories back. I'm Nikki Maucere Jackson, and I've been attending 121 community church since I was 15 years old, so 20 years now.

Nikki Maucere Jackson: [00:00:42] We intentionally chose to live in a smaller house beneath our means and tried not to collect as much stuff so that we could instead collect more memories. So we were always trying to travel together, whether it was somewhere small or visiting family, to we took a really big Disney World trip when the kids were little that we weren't really sure we could afford, but we also knew we couldn't afford not to do it. Craig always made those trips so fun with his silliness and his goofiness and breathed so much life into those trips and into our family. whether it was lifting the kids up on his shoulder or just being silly and playing monsters and light sabers with them. We always had so much fun together, really living life to the fullest and making those memories together.

Nikki Maucere Jackson: [00:01:29] When we got married, it was the recession and we actually, about six months after we got married, we both were laid off at the same time. So our first year of marriage was difficult, but we were able to kind of swing back from that, he was such a great partner. We also attended a live group at 121 together with Amy and Elvis, and really grew a lot during that time. And he got plugged into a life group with a couple of other guys, he would go in the mornings, which he hated mornings, so that was saying a lot about how much he wanted to really become that true spiritual leader in our home. And he would go every week in the morning and get up super early to go meet with these guys to help grow his faith and his ability to lead us.

Nikki Maucere Jackson: [00:02:19] We were so in tune with one another that it was so hard whenever that went away. Wednesday, July 1st in the morning, Craig was in a car accident on his way to work at his new job that he just loved and was thriving at. We, meaning me and a lot of my adult family members happened to be together that morning, which never happens on a Wednesday morning. When I got the call from JPS hospital that he had been in a car accident and was in critical condition, I didn't know much other than that, but I knew I needed to get there as fast as I could. I sat there at his bedside for I don't know if it was 5 minutes or 4 hours not knowing what had happened to him but seeing that he was on a vent and in extremely bad shape. The doctor came in and talked to me, told me that it did not look good, and that he had a traumatic brain injury.

Nikki Maucere Jackson: [00:03:39] So I had to go home and tell my children that daddy had been in an accident, it was a really dark moment in my life and in theirs. They didn't quite know what was going on, they were only three and six at the time. I got a call at 5 a.m., waking me up in the middle of the night, letting me know that he had died. I remember lying down on my bed and my mom, luckily, was next to me, she had spent the night with me. And I could not think about anything but our family and my children and what we had lost, and never getting to hear his voice again, or hear him laugh, or watch him play Tickle Monster with the kids.

Nikki Maucere Jackson: [00:04:32] I was honestly in a lot of shock, but we got to the hospital and the first thing I asked was, where are the organ donation people? Of course, they had one there waiting for me, and so we were able and one last gift of love to donate his organs. And he was able to help three people, which at that time brought me a lot of peace, but that day I left the hospital and had to come home and tell my children that Daddy had died. Sitting on the couch telling the kids that Daddy was not coming home, they actually never even got to see him from their perspective, he left for work one day and didn't come home again. Oh, sorry.

Nikki Maucere Jackson: [00:05:48] I wanted to make sure that they knew that just because they had lost Daddy did not mean they would lose Mommy, too. And I think that, that having the children really helped me with surviving those first weeks and months after his death. I was so worried about everything from a few Google statistics about fatherless children to our finances. I was an entrepreneur still, but I no longer had a husband to not only support me and be my cheerleader but also to provide that stable income for our family. I didn't know how I was going to provide for our family and step into that role that he had been in. So as the first few months of grief passed by and the shock began to wear off, new emotions set in, especially a deep loneliness where my every day had changed so drastically in every area of my life, to be honest.

Nikki Maucere Jackson: [00:07:03] So the children would go to bed, and normally Craig and I would do something together. I was alone, and it was extremely hard, those nights, especially where the kids kept me busy during the day, the nights were very difficult. But not only was I alone at night, I was alone in everything. I was alone in parenting my children, deciding everything for them first, whether it was the activities that they did or how to handle a situation at school, or even just the everyday discipline. I didn't have anyone else to consult with, I didn't have anyone else to help make sure I was making the right call. And there was so much pressure there, and I also felt so pressured to make sure that they were able to continue doing the things that they were doing before Craig died, and I needed to be able to afford those kinds of things, and I wasn't sure how I was going to do that and to continue to provide for them and give them the life that they had experienced. They had already lost so much; I didn't want them losing even more. I wanted them to stay in our home, I wanted to make sure that they knew that their lives could keep moving forward in the same way that Daddy had provided for them.

Nikki Maucere Jackson: [00:08:33] I remember about three months after Craig died, I went to a widow's retreat and I woke up in the middle of the night, kind of like when you wake up with a song stuck in your head. But I had a phrase stuck in my head, and I know God had given me that phrase and it was, God is good, even when dot, dot, dot. And for me, the even when is, God is good, even when my husband dies, even when those thousands of prayers we got across the world weren't answered the way I wanted them to be. He is good, even when. And I've clung to that ever since then, God has been so gentle to us during this time and so merciful.

Nikki Maucere Jackson: [00:09:27] When I look back now on even the weeks leading up to Craig's death, I see how he was preparing us for this. He made it impossible to be angry at him because he was so in it with us the whole time. Craig's last six weeks, if he could have designed his last six weeks, that was what it was. From the big things like being furloughed at work to be able to spend more time with us as a family, to the little things like my mom making his favorite apple pie for Father's Day and him eating every single slice over the course of a week. Those things brought me comfort, and I knew God gave them to us because he knew that they would. To the fact that his new job gave us some life insurance to help and set people into our lives that would be there for us in a way that I didn't know people could be there for each other. And I think that in general, when we go through hard things, sometimes it can be really hard to focus on those things or to even know that they're there because we're so blinded by grief, and we really have a choice to whether or not we lean into God during those times. And in this case, I didn't have a choice. I had to, it was the only way I could carry on, it was the only way I could get up every morning and take care of my children. And I'm so grateful that I only had the choice to lean into God and not lean into something else because He is and was what kept me going through all of those hard days where it felt impossible.

Nikki Maucere Jackson: [00:11:16] One of the hardest transitions I had to make was going from surviving every day and just getting through the day to thriving again and having hope for what God was going to do in my life and really embracing that. So when 2022 started, I decided to pick a word for the year, and I picked the word savor because I really wanted to focus on exactly where God had me each day, I wanted to enjoy my kid's childhood again because I had lost so much of that where I just was not enjoying them the way that a parent should be. And so in picking the word savor, I felt like God was allowing me to be exactly where I was, present in his presence, and hopeful for what else he could do in my life.

Nikki Maucere Jackson: [00:12:08] When I look back and think about God's faithfulness, it's really incredible to see how he was there and planning things for my future right from the start. I started attending grief share at Church at the Cross shortly after Craig died, within a month, and I met a woman there who became one of my closest friends. And I remember specifically one evening praying in grief share that God would redeem our situation, and I didn't know what that would look like, I didn't know if that was going to be some amazing service project or if the kids would just grow up to do incredible things, or if maybe he would give us another man in our lives to love us and guide us. It could be none of those things, it could be all of those things, but I trusted that He would redeem us.

Nikki Maucere Jackson: [00:13:02] And little did I know that the woman sitting next to me praying the same thing for her life would be the one that would eventually introduce me to my future husband. So she introduced me to Chris at the end of January of this year, right when I had started savoring every day and it went fine. He would tell you it was a good enough date for a second one, but after that second one, we knew it was what God had for both of us. So he proposed on March 27th, and we got married on June 11th. We felt in obedience to what God wanted for us and for our family and for the kids to feel secure in that relationship, so we are just so grateful for him stepping into our lives. And I, like I said, I didn't know if I would ever have that again, and I had made my peace with it, and I knew that God would redeem my story no matter what I wanted, it would be what he wanted.

Nikki Maucere Jackson: [00:14:06] And I just pray that God continues to use me and Chris and the kids to bring glory to him. I just pray that God would continue to use Craig's story through Chris and me and the kids to bring more people closer to him, to make sure that Craig's death wasn't for nothing and that his impact will continue throughout all of our lives and far beyond what he was able to live.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051